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October 23, 2013

Hazels contribute $1 million for LFCC science building

Although he didn’t go to college, Broad Run resident and businessman William A. Hazel Sr. (1935-2012) became a major force in education.
He realized throughout his life that education is the foundation of prosperity . . . . Obviously, this institution needs a major building.
— John “Til” Hazel Jr. on his late brother
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Fauquier’s community college will get a $1-million donation from the late William A. Hazel Sr.’s family toward the construction of a science and technology building.

A Broad Run resident, Mr. Hazel died at age 77 in September 2012.

William Hazel Jr. announced the gift Wednesday morning at a celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of the local Lord Fairfax Community College campus near Warrenton.

LFCC officials last year began planning the new building, estimated to cost $19.5 million.

“It is desperately needed,” college President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy told the audience of about 200 Wednesday.

A branch of the main college in Middletown, the Fauquier campus has grown to almost 2,000 students.

Community leaders, college supporters and politicians gathered in a large tent beside the converted barn that Janet and Bob Sowder donated to start the campus in 1988. LFCC dedicated a new, $7.2-million building 11 years later.

Because of rapid growth, the campus has added mobile classrooms. LFCC-Fauquier lacks a place for large meetings and needs more instructional space, especially for medical, science and technology courses, Campus Administrator Judy Batson said.

“Education has to meet people where they are,” said Dr. Hazel, Virginia’s secretary of health and human services. “We know in this community, we have foster children who take classes here . . . . Others, high academic achievers, come here to fill in a gap” between high school offerings and college.

Dr. Hazel mentioned the rapid escalation in the cost of college and noted that community colleges deliver more than half the higher education in Virginia.

“My dad didn’t go to college, and I know he wished he did,” Dr. Hazel added.

As he built an 1,800-employee company, Virginia’s largest excavation and site development contractor, the late Mr. Hazel came to recognize his workforce’s needs for adult literacy instruction and continuing education.

“My brother started out fighting education,” John “Til” Hazel Sr. told the audience. “He barely finished high school.”

But, through his philanthropy and advocacy, the late Mr. Hazel became a force in education, supporting LFCC, George Mason University, Duke University, VMI, Highland School, Woodberry Forest School and Flint Hill School, among others.

“He realized throughout his life that education is the foundation of prosperity,” Til Hazel added. “Obviously, this institution needs a major building.”

Wednesday’s announcement makes the building’s construction more likely.

He doesn’t know where the building ranks on the Virginia Community College System’s list of capital priorities, Chancellor Glenn DuBois admitted as he stepped down from the stage Wednesday.

“When somebody drops a $1-million deposit on you, it moves up the list,” Dr. DuBois said.

Typically, combinations of state and local funding pay for new community college buildings. Dr. Batson said the LFCC Foundation and the community must build on the momentum of the Hazel family’s gift.

“We’ve got appropriations for it, and we’ll start working on it during the session” that starts in January, said Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31st), who represents part of Fauquier in the Virginia House of Delegates. “I’m gonna be advocating for this.”

She and Dr. Hazel started talking about the family’s support for the new building last year, said Anne Hall, a Warrenton Realtor, longtime LFCC supporter and close friend of the late Mr. Hazel and his wife Eleanor.

But, Mr. Hazel’s health declined rapidly, before the family developed a plan.

His wife, children and their spouses lined the front row Wednesday, greeting friends and accepting thanks from dozens of guests.

“Bill Hazel was a champion of the little guy,” former state Sen. Russ Potts (R-27th/Winchester) said. “He believed the impossible was possible . . . through hard work.”

Mr. Potts asked the audience to imagine the ribbon cutting for the new building.

“It will happen and it will happen sooner than anybody thinks,” he said.

Sitting quietly with his wife at lunch after the ceremony, Mr. Sowder agreed.

“I think it will happen in five years,” he said of a groundbreaking. “When you get a family like the Hazels behind something, people get involved.”

Dr. Thompson-Stacy, LFCC’s president said of Mr. Hazel: “His legacy will live on at Lord Fairfax.”
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